Local music scene continues to gain national attention

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From artists like Neon Trees and Imagine Dragons hitting the top of the Billboard charts to local singers Ryan Innes and Amy Whitcomb appearing as finalists on the current season of NBC’s “The Voice,” the momentum the local music scene has generated recently doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

Kaneischa Johnson, public relations director at Velour Live Music Gallery, said the snowball effect started when Neon Trees signed with a major label.

“Once Neon Trees broke through, it helped other local bands see that mainstream success was a real possibility,” Johnson said. “And having a local venue like Velour that acts as a hub for a community of artists and fans really helps create a place for artists to grow and have support.”

Colin Rivera is the lead singer of local rock band The Lovecapades — a group that, in the past 18 months, has released three albums; opened for mainstream acts The Rocket Summer, Hoobastank, He Is We and Hellogoodbye; and performed three tours in Southern California (including a show at the Hard Rock Cafe in San Diego), the western U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Provo's music scene has turned into a launch pad to national success for local artists like Caleb Blood. (Courtesy Caleb Blood)
Provo’s music scene has turned into a launch pad to national success for local artists like Caleb Blood. (Courtesy Caleb Blood)

Rivera attributes his band’s string of opportunities to a combination of hard work and luck.

“I think someone said success is when hard work meets opportunity,” Rivera said. “I feel that any success we have achieved has been because we have worked really hard, and then have been majorly blessed with some great opportunities that we have been able to make the most of.”

Rivera also said Provo is an ideal place to launch the career of an artist, as evidenced by the number of success stories — both large and small — coming out of the valley.

“Provo music is exploding because of everyone working so hard here, and we’re excited to even be a tiny part of that,” he said. “We’re grateful for the opportunities that we have had here and are excited to see more arise as the great scene here keeps expanding.”

One way the local music scene has been expanding is the rise of a number of local independent record labels.

Manuel Delgado, president of Sample Road Records, said labels can be used as a tool for artists to be able to focus on what’s most important — creating the music.

“I think there’s a real need for labels within Utah Valley,” Delgado said. “The talent pool here is just bubbling over, but a lot of artists and bands within that pool are left on their own to figure out the business side of things.”

Delgado said these labels will also help the area gain increased credibility.

“The existence of labels will make the local scene more legitimate,” he said. “People from outside Provo will look at it and see it as a serious music hub.”

Caleb Blood, a local pop artist, is signed to Sample Road Records and agreed that local record labels can help artists and bands.

“It’s good to have somebody take care of the things I’m always worried about and spend a lot of time on, just spinning my wheels,” Blood said. “It’s good to have someone who can put those wheels on the ground and make it go forward.”

Blood also recently signed a licensing deal with national clothing brand Abercrombie and Fitch to play the lead single off his debut album in the line’s stores across the country.

“They approached really out of nowhere after seeing the music video for the song,” he said. “The biggest advantage to the deal is that anyone shopping in an Abercrombie store anywhere in the country can be exposed to my music. And if they like what they hear, they can just hit an app on their smartphone to learn it’s my song and find the rest of my music. It’s a really fantastic opportunity.”

Dave Zimmerman, an adjunct faculty member in BYU’s commercial music program, owns local recording studio Noisebox Studios. Having worked with countless bands and artists, Zimmerman said he believes the success of Provo’s music community stems from a variety of factors.

“I don’t know if it’s one specific thing,” Zimmerman said. “A lot of talent tends to accumulate here, and the resources are here to help artists create high-quality, professional recordings of their work.”

Zimmerman said running a quality studio helps give these aspiring musicians an advantage.

“Recording can help them grow and get better,” he said. “Ultimately it’s about creating the best work possible, which is happening for so many different people here.”

Zimmerman also said he expects that the success within the area will continue into the future.

“The music scene will definitely continue to grow as more bands and artists get recognized nationally,” he said. “There’s quality in the area, and I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface.”